Good morning. I am your cat, and as you know I rarely speak. My vocabulary is poor. I cannot make myself understood by you and your human friends. Trust me, if it were otherwise I would be on the phone right now ordering Finding Nemo on Pay per View. But today God has granted me five minutes of articulate speech so that I can clear up a thing or two with you, my owner.
First let us crush some misconceptions. I do not own you. You have the ability to remove my genitals and my claws. So, let us not be ridiculous by talking about me owning you. Also, I am not all that independent. I like you. You give me food, and you do funny things like sit on the toilet. When you are gone I miss you, and when you come home I stick to you like a fuzzy, dignified rash. Sure, if you dropped dead I would happily eat your corpse, but I am not going to drag you down like a gazelle on the veldt.
Now that we have resolved that, let us get specific. You complain because I scratch up your couch. You gave me a charming scratching post, and I ignore it like it was the ghost of Lassie. You yell and squirt water at me, which makes me sad because you are missing the point. Your couch is as ugly as moose crotch. I mean really, sunflowers? I never scratch the ottoman, because it is a lovely piece of furniture. I am doing you a favor by pointing out an appalling item in our shared home, so please desist squirting me with that bottle. I think it has bacteria in it.
You often laugh at me when I play. I am happy to provide you amusement. Please consider how much amusement I provide for such a small investment. All I need is a crumpled piece of paper to entertain you. And yet, when you play it is in fact quite boring for me. I do not want to hurt your feelings, but seven hours of twitching your thumb in front of your computer or X-Box is hardly a laugh riot for me. Please consider my enjoyment when choosing your leisure activities. Play your Wii more often. When you are Wii bowling I laugh so hard I think I am going to pee.
Let me raise another sore point. Sometimes I meow a lot, and sometimes I whine. Yes, I admit that on occasion I howl at 3:00 a.m. when you have an important meeting with a real jerk in only four hours. Sometimes when you are asleep I lie on your face, lick your eyelids, and pull out your hair with my teeth. All of this behavior must puzzle you and even anger you. I want you to understand that I do these things because you gave me a stupid name. You named me Snowball, and my brother is named Macaroni. I know cats named Oatcake, Loki, Tigger, and Dammit. Come on. Would you name your son “Schmoo”? How about “Sassafras”? Stop naming us like we were roadies on a Def Leppard tour and you will have a lot more peace at home.
When I roll on catnip while gripped by a profound euphoria, I sometimes sense that you are mocking me. I suspect that you are saying, “Look at the silly cat! He’s going crazy for that catnip. That’s just so wild!” I may be wrong about your comments, and if so I apologize, but just allow me to say this. You drink martinis and smoke dope. I roll in catnip and chase laser pointers. No one has cause to throw stones here.
Sometimes I feel we have lost sight of our respective roles in the home. My role is to be cute, play, eat your food, sleep, keep you company, and throw up in your shoe. Your role is to feed me, provide a lap for me on demand, clean my litter box, give me toys, keep me company, and leave your shoes lying around. When we both know our job, everything runs smoothly. My job may seem menial or even boring. Yet I remind you that I have never had to explain a return policy to an angry customer.
I hope we now better understand one another. This was certainly cathartic for me, and I expect it was illuminating for you. Now we can achieve a more harmonious life together, one that is genteel and even generous. We may yet create a world where I walk into the kitchen to find a can of tuna by my bowl, and you walk into the bedroom to find a dead bird on your pillow.
Thanks to Bill McCurry for allowing me to post this great article. Bill is a one of the best blog writers I’ve encountered in years visit him at http://whimsoffairness.wordpress.com. or click on his name (in blue). Lots of great posts and more about cats. Thanks Bill.
One Sunday afternoon before my granddaughter was born, my daughter called to talk about names for her baby girl. She began rattling off the front-runners, and I must say that some of them jolted me out of my peaceful Sunday nap.
Could I end up with a granddaughter named Tennessee, or Moonbeam, or Gaga? Not that these are awful names, mind you, but earlier that morning I had watched “CBS Sunday Morning,” which featured a section on naming children. It pointed out how the wrong name could affect whether a child gets into Harvard or Stanford or otherwise impact the child’s life. If that is indeed true, most of the names parents are giving their kids today will take psychologists the next fifty years to evaluate!
It got me thinking about the names I grew up with – nicknames that kids back in the 1950s were saddled with by other kids or clueless relatives. For brevity’s sake, and so I don’t offend any of these good folks who are still alive, I’ll omit the last names. The crazy thing is that most of the people I’m talking about still go by these nicknames! Take Pissweed, for example. Now there’s one for you. I think we can probably all figure out how he got that delightful moniker. Then there were Mooie, Sketz, and Shitter (I know this is gross, but that is what we called him). The latter was actually a name conferred on a boy in grade school. Kids can really be cruel. Thank God he wasn’t a girl. Then there was my best friend Sam, except that wasn’t his given name. Someone said he looked like a “Sam,” so that’s what we called him. There were also Monk, Perk, Bip, and Sid (again not his real name, he just “looked” like one). I was also acquainted with Smeetz, Satch, BA, Jit, Legs, and Tippy. Tippy and I spent many a night getting “tipsy” when he was home on leave from the Air Force. You get the picture. By today’s standards, all the nicknames I’ve listed should have destroyed these people and their personalities, but they didn’t. I can visit my home town today and refer to the people with these dubious handles. Every one of them was well loved, and they all made something positive of their lives.
I am aware that folks in my home town will read this article when I post it. I hope I don’t get any phone threats or fires set in my yard. As for my nickname…come to think of it, they never gave me one. But after this blog, there just might be a long list of contenders.
My daughter says my blog posts are too serious, rigid, boring and a few other things, and that I need to make them more interesting so people, like her, would enjoy reading them. Of course being a writer I defended myself, as I have been so capable of doing, where women are concerned…not. So, maybe she has a point, I have a tendency to be serious, when in fact that’s not who I am. I wrote an article for the blog on September 18, 2012 titled “Travels with Larry,” I didn’t think anymore about it, except I began to receive many positive comments, one person saying that she liked my writing style, with the sprinkling of humor and the self realization moments thrown in. I went back and read Travels, and realized the style of writing I did for that post reflected the person, who most of the people in my life, really know, and yes they are proud of me for the book I wrote and the many more on the way, but my posts should be, “more me.”
So here goes, my life revisited, well portions of it, hope you enjoy.
My wife is the consummate cat lover, and I must admit to a bit of the affliction myself. Having visited Key West, Florida, several years ago, our favorite tourist destination was the Hemingway House, replete with about fifty cats (both six-toed and their less exalted five-toed relatives) descended from Hemingway’s own original brood. Typical scenes we encountered on the house tour included cats snoozing away on quilted spreads atop antique wrought-iron beds, cats curled up on overstuffed Avignon chairs, and cats languishing in the sun-dappled shade of cool, breezy walkways. A few of the more frisky inhabitants greeted us on the trail around the house and accompanied us over sprawling porches and into first-floor sitting rooms.
We were appalled to hear of the recent movement underfoot to confine the beloved cats to leashes during the day and cages at night, as well as subject them to other government regulations. It seems a visitor to the house had complained about some whimsical nuance regarding their care. These cats benefit from weekly vet visits, have the run of the house, enjoy regulated nutritious diets, and most are spayed and neutered to prevent multiplying beyond their present numbers. There are fences and foliage to keep them inside the estate – in fact, they do not attempt to leave because they have it so good, and are adept at keeping wannabe feline friends out so they don’t have to share the wealth. Even PETA has green-lighted their living arrangement.
So I have to ask – in these times of fiscal cliffs, debt ceilings, healthcare confusion, waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars – doesn’t the federal government have more pressing things to do than fixing what ain’t broke? Everyone knows that dogs have owners, but in this case, cats have staff!
On a visit to her son’s home in France many years ago, my wife was startled when her four-year-old granddaughter was jumping around the living room and broke a lamp. When grandma asked what happened, her granddaughter shrugged her shoulders in typical French fashion and explained, closing with the statement, “Mais ce n’est pas important.” But it’s not important. Needless to say, grandma was taken aback by that last remark and, I’m sure, had an adequate response. Over the years I have heard that story many times, so obviously it made a big impression. Today, if you ask my wife or daughter-in-law about the lamp incident, the type of lamp is forgotten but what remains is the expression that has become part of the family lore.
While we assign degrees of importance to things, a child’s simple explanation puts into perspective the reality of what counts: people, family, friends, co-workers, and everyday contacts. They are more important than any object ever will be. As a society, we have a tendency to believe that the more we own, the better we feel about ourselves. You know, “the one who dies with the most toys wins.” We seem to put things on a higher pedestal than human relationships, which is sad because as you grow older, you forget about the things. Relationships live with you forever.
My hope is that as our granddaughter progresses into adulthood, she never forgets the valuable lesson she taught us…the possessions in life are not that important. It’s the people in our lives that count the most.
“The most unfair thing about life is the way it ends. I mean, life is tough. It takes up a lot of your time. What do you get at the end of it? A Death! What’s that, a bonus? I think the life cycle is all backwards. You should die first, get it out of the way. Then you live in an old age home. You get kicked out when you’re too young, you get a gold watch, you go to work. You work forty years until you’re young enough to enjoy your retirement. You do drugs, alcohol, you party, you get ready for high school. You go to grade school, you become a kid, you play, you have no responsibilities, you become a little baby, you go back into the womb, you spend your last nine months floating …and you finish off as an orgasm.”
― George Carlin